Tonight the National Geographic Channel takes an in-depth look at the 'Warrior Gene', found in males it detects if a person is predisposed to violence. By profiling people via DNA could this be the beginning of a Minority Report future?
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Henry Rollins, the host of Born to Rage to ask him his thoughts on everything from this newly discovered 'Warrior Gene' to TSA airport screening. But first a clip from tonight's Born to Rage.
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Hi! Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to me.
Oh! No problem, man.
In the show it was fascinating to watch the entire process, and even after knowing the results, you still wanna keep watching it- Which I really loved. In one part, you go back to your school in D.C. Had you been back there since?
I left there in like 1969 or something. ... That's an old neighborhood I walk to whenever I visit Washington, D.C. and I had to bide time. I'll walk by that schoolyard, yeah. I've been back many times.
Do you always think of that when you walk by?
Oh yeah, sure. I mean ... in the show you see, I take you to little spots where I was basically terrified as a young boy. Yeah. All that stuff comes back.
When you start talking about all the guys, they all want to have the warrior gene. Like it's something cool.
You know, and when they ask me to be carrying, i was one of those people to be interviewed first too. I was kind of half kidding, when they said "well, what will you think if you don't have the warrior gene?" And i said "I'll be damn disappointed" But I was kind of goofing off. I mean, it's going to be what it's going to be.
But it's not something that you really want, is it? When you really think about it?
Well, for me, I wouldn't want my body challenging me in that way. In that potential to be out of control, because of the basic wiring of my system. That's not- I'd rather not. Also, on a more egotistical bend, I would rather be a product of my environment, by guilt. The way i am, I'd rather have earned it.
I am the way I am because these streets, from these decades, from these experiences have made me who and what I am. Rather than: "Oh, he's a maniac because he's got this gene." That's 'cause, it's kinda like "Oh. Oh well." So, at the same time, someone who commits bad behavior and has the warrior gene, that that would somehow manifest itself in that person to become violent. You can't give them a pass. "He hits his wife!" "Oh well, he has the warrior gene." "Well, in that case, swing away!" So, it's an odd proposition to society, which is a moral construct. The constitution. It's a morality play of freedom and equality, with the courts. So here's science butting it's immoral [head] with more information. It's interesting to see how we will deal with it.
Absolutely. And speaking of the society things, it brings me to my next question. Airport security has been huge in the news recently. This whole special goes along with this minority report idea of law enforcement and what's happening with airports across the country. What are your thoughts on that?
My thoughts are that someone made a deal with... whoever makes those machines. And whoever it is landed a really good deal, and now our airports are full of them. Until so many people complain about being groped, or getting to look at their particular parts on a huge screen. I think some of those inspections are being outsourced so maybe somebody in Mumbai is inspecting you for something suspicious. I don't think there's an up-kick in terror or danger in America. i think it was some kind of money thing. It is always. Whenever you have a question about anything going on in this country, it's probably the money.
Do you think [because] people are so willing to expose themselves to these machines, that they might be willing to do these types of DNA tests in the future?
I think people are willing get on an airplane. But they just wanna get the damn thing over with, and sit in their crappy seat and go into the fetal position all the way to Las Vegas. As far as taking a DNA swab and testing itself for the warrior gene, as i know that you have done, I think that lawyers are going to start using this. As you know, it's only been used once and its accessible. So, any lawyer with a criminal offender- it would probably be worth his time to check on his client so he can have some kind of plausible denial. So you could say "Well that old warrior gene, you just know how that is!" it might just end up the new... defense I just think that with any advance in technology. Like you know, you've got the internet, and now you have internet predators. You get texting ability on your telephone, and now people don't know how to speak English or don't know how to write because they are saying "how are you?" with an "R" and a "U." And it turns into idiots who are thumb-driven to communicate. So with any advance in science, there's an upside and a downside. The upside: you get to learn more about how we tick, how we function. and hopefully something good comes with that to keep us from killing each other. On the other hand, it gives us more of a view "in" and it could be obtrusive.
Absolutely. Two more questions. did you get to learn anything else from your DNA test results?
Uh, no. No. All I got was my verdict on the warrior gene. I learned nothing else. I'd like to think I'm like the fourth-found Abraham Lincoln, but you know, that's just my way. You know, he's one of my favorites. But no i did not inquire, nor was i told. Which shows you how on the job I am.
And my last question. The name of the gene is MAO-A...
Right. The Monoamine oxidase A gene, otherwise known as the MAO-A gene
Do you think it would be a good name for a band?
Yeah, but not as good as what a comedian said to me on the daily habit TV show I just did a few hours ago. Because we were talking about the warrior gene, and the host said, "you know they're also finding evidence of a promiscuity gene." And one very apt comedian piped up and said "Ah, a slut gene!" Now there's your t-shirt line, there's your band name and there's your slutgene.com. There's your full pick up page. "I've got the slut gene!" So. Yeah. I don't know.
Alright well those are all of the questions I have. Thank you so much for taking the time.
Thanks, I'll see ya down the road!
Listen to the interview here:
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More about Henry Rollins and National Geographic's Born To Rage:
Ex-punk rocker turned commentator, Henry Rollins, has struggled with violent feelings and a quick temper all his life. From being beaten up at school, to venting his rage as front man for the California punk band, Black Flag, to his current spoken word performances, Henry is an angry man and he's sick and tired of it. He always put it down to the environment in which he was raised. But after finding out about the Warrior Gene, Henry is a man on a mission. He wants to know if his anger has to do with his upbringing or his DNA.